My son-in-law has a saying:“Don’t poke the bear.” As I write this column the day before our Monday council meeting, I’m wondering if I’ve not only poked the bear, but given it a good boot!
I’m anticipating the debate over whether council will allow people and their pooches to stroll the downtown once more. In the entire time I’ve served on council, there have only been a handful of issues that inspire passionate debate across the community and surprisingly, this is one. I’ve been amazed at the amount of time the dog issue takes each time it arises and it’s one of the reasons I’m bringing it forward.
In my many conversations with the business community, police, council and citizens, the signs are good that we can come to a workable solution and move on. However, one thing I’ve also learned is to never assume the outcome of a good feisty debate.
The proposed skatepark site is another hot topic right now. I attended the recent community meeting at Rosemont Elementary School to listen to ‘boarders young and old, neighbourhood residents and designers. The essential issue once again boils down to location, location, location.
I’ve heard the passionate reasons from skaters and park lovers about the pros and cons of this site. Among the strongest reasons for the site is the ability to build a world class destination skatepark that will attract skaters from around the area and have the ability to host professional events.
On the downside, there are questions about whether the noise and activity from the all-wheel park will disturb this already busy neighbourhood and concerns about the treed areas of the park that are loved by many locals.
I can assure you that the forested area of the park will not be disturbed by the proposed skatepark. If there is anything council has learned in the last ten years of hit and miss, it’s the importance of bringing the community together to work on complicated issues.
I was very encouraged by the conversations I heard between people at the meeting and by the time you read this, council will have come to a decision on the staff recommendation.
You’ve heard the saying: “When it rains, it pours.” It poured at the aquatic centre last week when a portion of the tiled ceiling collapsed. Luckily no one was injured and the latest news that the tiles do not contain asbestos means a dramatically decreased cost for repair.
The tiles will be completely removed and not replaced. Tiled ceilings are not necessary in aquatic facilities and an added bonus is that their removal will improve the working of the air handling systems. New lighting will be necessary and if all goes well, we anticipate the facility will reopen at the end of March.
The recreation commission is engaged in future planning for all recreation amenities and the upgrade or possible replacement of the facility will be brought to community for a future discussion.
You’ll have heard by now that council is in the thick of budget deliberations beginning with department reports. Now, budget talks can be a very dry experience, usually with no, or very little humour.
When our own green team came forward with the latest report on CO2 emissions, they also came with a slogan: “We work hard to have no impact.” This was the beginning of a very encouraging report. In 2012, the city reduced emissions by 30 tonnes and is anticipating a further reduction of 35 tonnes in 2013. That is 5.5 per cent below 2007 emissions and means that we are ahead of our projections. We also learned that the full 100 per cent of the methane gas produced at the sewage treatment plant will be recycled as energy for the plant.
As well, the green team is moving forward on improved fleet initiatives and continuing to implement the building energy assessment recommendations that were completed a couple of years ago.
These are only a few of the items your council has been working on over the last couple of months and if it’s any indication, things won’t be slowing down any too soon. It’s never dull, always interesting and I like it that way.
Deb Kozak is a Nelson city councillor who shares Wednesday this space with her colleagues around the table.